Problem Solver: Hybrid Credentials

Today, there are three major initiatives for cards and credentials. Every locksmith needs to be aware of them. They include:

  • Smart cards are becoming the credential of choice. If your customer presently uses magnetic stripe or proximity cards, get them to start planning for the switchover now.
  • It’s going to be a hybrid world. Although smart cards will be the credential of choice, multiple types of credentials, such as key systems, PINs, various types of cards and biometrics, will still be necessary for certain operations. Adding special credentials to such areas is possible. And, even though your customer may be using multiple credentials, you still will want one system to manage all of them.
  • Get ready for new technologies such as NFC (near field communications). With NFC-enabled smart phones, customers will be able to employ their employees’ own smart phones as access credentials, just like they would use smart cards.

Today, a smart credential, at about the same price as a proximity card, provides a higher level of security, more convenience and far greater functionality. As used on campuses and in newer access control systems, smart credentials have the ability to manage access, payments and many other functions much more securely.

Smart credentials increase the security of information kept on the card and stored in the facility. In comparison to door keys, magnetic stripe cards or proximity cards, the encrypted security of smart credentials ensures that they are far harder to counterfeit.

Issuing only one smart credential also impacts administrative costs. Not only is the cost of a single credential lower than purchasing multiple forms of ID, but the reduced management and distribution time for one credential will have a significant impact on productivity.

Two Types of Smart Credentials: Smart Cards and Smart Phones: As those selecting smart cards have found, there’s a caveat in deploying smart cards. Choosing the right smart card credential can make all the difference when trying to use them with applications other than access control. Look for platforms that are open format rather than those designed for proprietary systems. Open formats allow easy integration into other applications with minimal programming, speeding up the time of deployment, reducing the cost of implementation, and giving organizations more freedom to get the most out of their investment. Open architecture readers also let organizations use both their present software and panels with their new credentials. If, down the road, they change their software, they can still use the readers.

Using Smart Phones like Smart Cards. As NFC technology is now being added to a growing number of mobile handsets to enable access control as well as many other applications, more and more organizations are considering joining the “bring your own device” (BYOD) trend and having their users deploy their own smart phones and their access control credentials. It is projected that over 285 million NFC-enabled smart phones were sold in 2013 and over half the phones sold in 2015 will be NFC-capable.

It is very important that organizations be prepared for smart credential and NFC deployment, even if that facility wants to install proximity, magnetic stripe or keypad readers at present. If a new reader is needed, select multi-technology readers that combine the ability to read magnetic stripe, proximity, smart cards and NFC-enabled smart phones in just a single unit. That way, when the customer switches over to smart credentials, it won’t have to tear out all the old readers to install smart credential readers.


Jeremy Earles is Allegion’s portfolio marketing manager-credentials & readers